choosing a photographer

So much goes into choosing the right photographer for you. You need to find someone who sees your vision and can make it happen. I have seen so many people go into a photo shoot knowing nothing about the photographer, then they get disappointed when their photos don't turn out the way they want them to. Thing is, photography is so much more than just taking a picture. Here are some things you should always talk to your photographer about before you sign that contract.

What type of photography do you specialize in?

I cannot stress this one enough. It is probably the most important question you can ask you photographer!

Lets pretend I'm a doctor. You meet me and I introduce myself as Dr. Crystal Lovell. Do you automatically assume that I can treat you for a cold, mend a broken bone, and perform spinal surgery? No, of course not. Each of those requires specialized training. It's not that a spinal surgeon CAN'T mend a broken bone- they probably learned enough basics in medical school to figure their way through the process- but wouldn't you rather have someone who mends broken bones on a daily basis?

Photography is very similar. As a photographer, I learned the basics. I know how to properly work my camera and how to adjust situations based on the light. I know what shutter speed my camera should be on for shooting different subjects, and I know how to adjust my settings based on my environment. Then, I learned the basics of editing with a universal program. After that, I chose my path. I am a fine art children and family photographer. I specialize in themed photography and composite work. I have done hundreds of hours of continuing education in this genre and the majority of my experience in my career is in this genre. Does this mean that I cannot shoot a wedding, or a maternity session? Absolutely not! I could definitely shoot either one of them. However, wouldn't you rather have someone who shoots those kinds of sessions all the time? Someone who knows from experience exactly what to look for and what angles to be at? In the same boat, a newborn photographer may not be your best choice for a dramatic boudoir session.

These days it is uncommon for a photographer to specialize in several different types of photography. They typically often only specialize in one or two genres. If you come across a photographer that will shoot anything and everything, tread lightly and make sure that their past work in the area you are interested in is up to your standards so you don't end up disappointed in the end.

Same Picture- 5 different editing styles

can i see examples of your editing?

These days, it's usually pretty easy to jump on someone's website or facebook page and find examples of their work. Look at the before and afters and look at the editing. Does the photographer tend to create pictures that are light and airy? Or do they tend to lean towards the dark and moody? Do you prefer black and white, monotone images or do you like vibrant images with bright colors? There is no wrong answer to these questions- however, there are wrong choices in photographers. There are so many photographers that I admire immensely and think their work is gorgeous- but mine looks nothing like theirs. Make sure you find some pictures that you like and would like your photo session to look like, then find a photographer that edits that way. (Blog Post about editing styles coming soon!)

do you have any client referrals?

Word of mouth is a photographer's best friend. If they can give you a list of repeat customers that love their work, or you can see referrals on their website, that gives you a true testimony of how others are enjoying their photo sessions with them. Remember, not only is it important that you like the photographer's work, it is important that THEY are likable too!

what is your policy on rescheduling a session?

An experienced photographer will definitely have a policy in place when it comes to a customer cancelling or rescheduling a photography session. A photographer with policies indicates that they have experience with different types of customers and situation and have created policies accordingly. This also gives you an indication on how they run a business which is important to be aware of when giving anyone a deposit.

Have you had any experience with (name your specific concern)?

If you have any specific concerns regarding your photo session such as the photographer's ability to work with a special needs child, for example, find out if they have ever handled that type of situation before. This being said, do not automatically dismiss a photographer and their abilities based on their answers to your concerns. If given adequate notice, an experienced photographer should be able to deal with any situation you present them. This is the hallmark of a true pro.

the silent question

Use your gut to judge their personality and rapport. A photographer's main job is to capture emotions and moments. I highly recommend getting to know them ahead of time. If your photographer doesn't mesh well with you on the phone or in person, chances are you and your family will not mesh well with them at your session- and that will show in your photos.